Last week, I discussed Expedition Unknown host Josh Gates in his role as a trustee of the Archaeological Institute of America, a nonprofit which “promotes archaeological inquiry and public understanding of the material record of the human past to foster an appreciation of diverse cultures and our shared humanity.” I criticized the AIA for giving a prominent role, both administratively and in terms of public events, to Gates because his program had included some dubious content and awful guests. Gates has occasionally spoken in glowing terms about the ancient astronaut theory, and his show airs on a network owned by Discovery Communications, a conglomerate responsible for some of the most damaging pseudoscientific series of the past few years, such as Legends of the Lost.
In response to my tweet tied to that blog post, Gates tweeted a response repudiating the ancient astronaut theory in absolute terms, and then quickly deleted the tweet.
However, it was more than interesting that his repudiation of the ancient astronaut theory and its space alien connections disappeared in time for the announcement of a new Gates-led spinoff series, Expedition X, which will revive the old Destination Truth format and once again send Gates, along with cable TV talking head and scientist Phil Torres and ex-Nerdist broadcaster and paranormal podcaster Jessica Chobot, in search of ghosts, cryptids, and space aliens.
Expedition X will focus on, basically, pseudoscience, while the mothership series will retain its focus on more history-based “mysteries.”
With the revival of Gates’s participation in hunts for space aliens, ghosts, and other paranormal claims, this heavily undercuts the arguments that Gates has repeatedly made in public events that his current show falls on the more responsible end of the cable spectrum and serves to generate interest in archaeology and science. It’s hard to see another paranormal show, and one on the main Discovery Channel rather than its low-rated sister stations, as anything but more glorification of knowingly fake “mysteries” and pseudoscience. Granted, Destination Truth was never obsessed with pseudoscience, spending more time on local cultures and folklore, but Gates happily trumpeted fake Yeti evidence to promote that series, and the new show will have heavily lifting to do to in order to prove itself anything other another cable paranormal show.
The new series will begin airing Feb. 12 and will be the third Gates-helmed series airing on Discovery, alongside Expedition Unknown and Expedition Unknown: After the Hunt. The three shows will air in a block. Gates also hosts a fourth series on Discovery’s Travel Channel, Legendary Locations.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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